Of course, the whole series is named Tales of Goldstone Wood, so Goldstone must be a remarkably important part of the series. And yet, we don't see a whole lot of Goldstone in Veiled Rose.
Or do we?
We know for certain of one important moment when Lionheart, having made the long trek to Parumvir, finds himself turned away at Oriana Palace's gates. Dejected and frustrated after all the long years of his exile, he makes his way down the hill and approaches the Wood.
The shade cast by the trees looked inviting. Any relief from this blistering heat would be welcome. Lionheart doubted any of the fabled monsters that purportedly lived within that shade would suddenly creep to this portion of the wood to devour one rejected jester. So he flopped down with his back against a tall, spreading maple at the edge of the forest . . . (p. 306).
Of course, he falls asleep.
Any one of you, dear readers, would be perfectly able to appraise Lionheart of his error here. I mean, seriously. Who takes a nap in a Faerie forest and doesn't expect to suffer consequences?
Consequences Lionheart certainly does suffer in the form of a terrifying dream. Some strange Other comes to him and sings into his mind in a dark voice.
You know the Princess Varvare . . . When you see her, you will send her to me. I will wait in the Wilderlands (p. 306-307).
This is, I believe, one of the strangest little interludes in the novel. What, by Lumé's crown, is this creature? And who, pray tell, is Princess Varvare?
So must Lionheart himself have wondered when he startled from uneasy sleep. After all the bizarre sights he had witnessed over the last several years, this one must have neared the top of his list for bizarreness. And he won't receive any answers concerning that mysterious vision through the course of Veiled Rose's storyline. He will have to wait for Moonblood . . .
Later on, Lionheart spends some time with Princess Una in Goldstone Wood, down by the old bridge. Nothing particularly untoward happens during that visit, and as far as Lionheart might surmise, the Wood isn't nearly as strange as reported.
But is this episode in Parumvir the only time we saw Goldstone Wood?
Remember back the summer of Lionheart's eleventh year. Remember how he slipped out of the house late one rain-soaked afternoon and became lost on the mountain. He climbed all the way above the tree line, and when he entered the forest again . . . it wasn't the same forest.
The difference was subtle. One would hardly notice it at first. Leo was several paces in before he realized the smell was wrong. It didn't smell like rain. And though he could see the undergrowth spreading thick beneath the spreading trees, where he walked, there was none (p. 78).
The familiar forest of his summer surroundings has vanished, and in its place stands a malevolent Wood. A Wood that laughs at him and draws him down into its depths where he glimpses a phantom wolf and a ghostly woman with hair of fire. Terrified, Leo runs, and realizes that even the mountain is gone, given way to a flat forest.
But when he calls to Rose Red, she finds him and leads him out once more.
We wonder, following this strange adventure: Is Goldstone Wood perhaps much bigger than the stretch of forest seen in northern Parumvir?
Again, we might just have to wait to learn a little more on this subject come Moonblood.